and families face many obstacles in today's world.
In these times of limited resources, it is essential that
federal, state and local services be delivered efficiently,
effectively, without duplication or bureaucratic barriers to
maximize funding for children and families.
The Children and Family Initiative recognizes that this goal
can only be attained if:
Children and families can access a fully unified and
integrated system of supports and services.
Children and families need a seamless process making
available a comprehensive continuum of services in their
establishment of a common point of entry for services to children
and families will help reduce duplication of effort.
Through a common point of entry, children and families can
access the same basic assessment, a team approach to planning, case
coordination/ management, information and referral, and supports and
services to both children and families.
A system that allows children and families to move between
levels of care on an as needed basis without disruption to or loss
of continuity of necessary services saves the expense of "recertification"
for services and avoids the deterioration of family circumstances
that often arises when services are disrupted.
A new "tracking and payment" system, with pooled
funding and funding attached to the child/family rather than to
specific programs, would be a more efficient and effective way to
address children/family needs.
Children and family services are planned and implemented with
agency collaboration, coordination and leadership at all levels
(state, county and local). Children
and families need leadership and commitment from cabinet officers,
division directors and other senior officials toward parent/family
empowerment and systems change.
This leadership and commitment will be clear if the
principles of the Children and Family Initiative are enforced from
the top down and across systems.
Services will be more effective and efficient if all agencies
that impact on children and families (Education, Health, Human
Services, Labor, Community Affairs, Juvenile Justice, etc.)
collaborate in planning and service delivery, jointly funding and/or
pooling funding to the maximum extent appropriate.
While responsible oversight and enforcement is important,
overregulation or rigidity can interfere with the most effective
Parents/family members are full partners in all aspects of
the process. Families
need to be informed, effective participants in state, regional, and
local policy planning, governance, and decision-making, and in
decision-making for their own children.
Families possess information that is crucial for effective
service delivery; in addition, most families have the life-long
commitment to their children that is necessary to ensure that
services have the desired impact.
Children and families receive services from
service providers and other professionals who are fully
prepared to work as partners with families.
Effective service providers are fully competent in working in
partnership and mutual respect with diverse families; they recognize
that valuing the hopes, dreams and priorities of families and
building on family and community strengths improves the impact of
education agencies and professional continuing education must
incorporate this philosophy and relevant skill-building into their
Children and families can access "family-friendly,"
culturally competent service delivery.
Effective professionals across systems work with and provide
services in ways that are appropriate for diverse families,
including caretakers such as foster parents, other relatives and
non-traditional family constellations, and families from varying
racial/ethnic/socio-economic and linguistic backgrounds.
When the focus is on the level and type of need rather than
deficits, dysfunctions, negative labels or blame, families are more
receptive to services and change.
Children and families can access a full continuum of
prevention services and models that promote healthy development and
measures, such as pre- and post-natal medical care, nutrition,
quality education, access to decent housing and employment have
well-documented positive impacts on children and families.
Schools that utilize their resources to become havens of
emotional wellness allow children to learn and develop to their
fullest potential. When
social development/social problem-solving is part of the "core
curriculum, taught consistently in grades pre-K through 12, and made
available to families, children, families and communities all
behavioral supports in schools and families can reduce the need for
more expensive services.
Children and families can access a full continuum of
intervention services, as early as needed, in the least restrictive,
most natural environments.
Services are most effective when they are flexible,
customized, comprehensive, and accessible, and are designed to offer
supports and services in the most independent, normal manner and the
least restrictive, most normal settings, as close to home as
possible. Children and
families also respond to incentives to maintain, develop or achieve
maximum social and economic self-sufficiency.
For those children who need more intensive services, planning
and service delivery must avoid/minimize the potential for multiple
placements/multiple failures, ensure a range of options and services
for children and families, and provide appropriate education, mental
health, and other services in all settings.
The needs of children and families are addressed by systems
that engage in ongoing assessment of individual needs as well as
overall needs of children and families throughout the state.
Comprehensive, coordinated assessments of the strengths
and needs of families and children must be available across systems
to avoid duplication of effort and maximize efficiency and
must include the hopes, dreams and priorities of families.
To measure effectiveness, the satisfaction of families and
children must be periodically determined, outcomes and performance
objectives must be reviewed on an ongoing basis, and periodic status
updates or "report cards" must be provided to stakeholders
for review and comment.
Children and families can readily access information
regarding their own services, as well as the overall performance of
systems of services. To
ensure effectiveness and efficiency, services must be organized in a
way that ensures ongoing performance outcomes that will drive system
changes, funding directions, resource utilization, and planning.
Children and families receive efficient, sufficient,
effective, and fully funded services.
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of
children and families receive sufficient appropriate services at the
earliest stages, the need for more expensive services can be
ameliorated or eliminated, and the health and well-being of
children, families and communities are most easily maintained.
most effective services are also often the most efficient.
Time-consuming bureaucratic barriers not only frustrate and
deter families from seeking and accessing the services they need,
but also cost taxpayer dollars that could be used in other ways.
The goal of the Children and Family Initiative is to ensure
that children and families receive the services they need to
overcome the obstacles in their own lives and become productive,
active participants in our communities, through coordination of
services across agency lines, elimination or reduction of
bureaucratic barriers, and sufficient funding for services.